By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BANGALORE, India – Police evicted more than 100 working class transgender people, also known as hijras, last week. Human Rights Watch and other groups believe that these acts are part of a bigger scheme by police to actively cleanse Bangalore of transgenders, basing their campaign on incidents reported in national newspapers. The news reported that a gang of hijras kidnapped children, castrated them and forced them into prostitution. Police allegedly arrested the perpetrators.
“Of course, all reports of child abuse should be thoroughly investigated,” said Dipika Nath, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch. “But authorities are also responsible for sorting out fact from prejudice – and there is no excuse for targeting an entire community for retaliation.”
Following the news stories, the police inspector of Bangalore issued a notice to about 40 homeowners requiring them to evict all hijras occupying their homes. The police targeted the Dasarahalli neighborhood, a place known for having a large number of hijra inhabitants. Almost 100 hijra residents lost their homes, some lost their security deposits, and some lost their belongings.
Hijra victims stated that claims by the police are unfounded and the reported kidnappings are being used as justification for the evictions. Police say that it is the homeowners that are evicting their tenants. However, the leading national newspaper, The Hindu, obtained a copy of the eviction notice served upon the hijra tenants by the police.
“Because of prevailing myths that hijras habitually kidnap young boys, reports of the arrest of two hijras on criminal charges are a convenient excuse to target the entire community without arousing public outcry,” said Nath.
Last month, police arrested five hijras in Bangalore and charged them with extortion. The hijras were beaten and sexually abused. Forty-one human rights defenders were also arrested for protesting their arrest.
On October 20th, Deputy Commissioner of Police in Bangalore was quoted by a national newspaper, Daily News and Analysis, as calling for a “drive against the city’s eunuch menace.” “Eunuch” is a derogatory term for hijras.
For more information, please see:
The Hindu – Hijras Face Further Harassment – 13 November 2008
Human Rights Watch – India: Stop ‘Social Cleansing’ in Bangalore – 18 November 2008
Times of India – Conflicts Surface Over Sex-Change Racket – 12 November 2008